A number of young women in the United Kingdom have given birth over the last five years despite not having had any sexual intercourse with a male partner.

Clinics in the country revealed that around 25 virgin women have been impregnated in the past few years through in vitro fertilization (IVF). They said some of their clients are willing to pay £5,000 (more than $7,500) for the procedure to have children now but save themselves for their ideal partner.

Supporters of the traditional family system, however, have blasted the "distorted" move, stating that it was turning young children into "teddy bears" that are to be "picked off the shelf."

Some religious groups have also claimed that the move undermines the value of having children brought up in a stable marriage, while one leading psychotherapist has warned that a mother who has never been in a relationship could potential harm the development of the child.

Maha Ragunath, medical director of One is Care Fertility's Nottingham clinic, said that the number of single women seeking IVF treatment has doubled in the last 10 years, accounting for as much as 10 percent of Ragunath's patients.

She said that instead of career women who have been too focused on their work, many of her clients are in their 20s and either still in school or employed in very ordinary jobs.

When asked about their reason for undergoing IVF treatment, clients often respond by saying that they are prepared to have a child and they do not want to wait for an ideal partner.

Ragunath added that a small number of her IVF patients have never been in a relationship and never had any sexual intercourse.

Ragunath has had three single virgin patients undergo IVF treatment in the past three years. All of her patients became mothers.

Josephine Quintavalle, a representative from the Comment on Reproductive Ethics group, criticized the development, claiming that nature's message is for a man and a woman to have child. She said that the move diminishes the role of the father in the development of the child.

Bishop James Newcome of Carlisle said that any move that supports the idea that women do not need to have a family to have a child would result in adverse implications for society.

Imam Suhaib Hasan, head of the Islamic Sharia Council in the UK, accused doctors engaged in providing IVF treatment to patients of acting like God.

Hasan said that when the man is removed from the aspect of a family, the woman becomes merely a breeding machine. He added that it effectively denies the right of the child to have a father.

National Gamete Donation Trust chief executive Laura Witjens asserted that these young women have the right to choose to have the treatment if they want to. She said that IVF clinics, however, have the responsibility to evaluate why their patients want to do so.

Witjens said that society has a tendency to overreact regarding single women choosing to become mothers. She pointed out that such women are often much better prepared to become a single parent emotionally, socially and financially compared to those who became single mothers because of a failed relationship.

Dilys Daws, a child psychotherapist, said that young virgin women who resort to IVF treatment could potentially be not matured enough emotionally to become close to someone else, which is a crucial aspect of bringing up a child.

She said this suggests that the woman is afraid of having a close physical relationship with others. This could result in the child not being brought up with love.

IVF clinics emphasized that before a patient can undergo the fertilization procedure, she is required to see a counselor first to help her understand the treatment and effects of using sperm from a donor.

Children born through in vitro fertilization have the right to find out who their biological father is once they reach 18 years old. Clinics said they place great importance on the child's welfare as well.

Photo: Krisztina Konczos | Flickr 

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